Ask Jeeves Gets Personal

In a major revamp, the search engine launches personalization features with MyJeeves as it also upgrades its index and bolsters its local offerings.

Ask Jeeves Inc. is getting personal with Web search and trying to leapfrog its bigger competitors in the process.

The Emeryville, Calif., company on Tuesday launched a series of personalization features for its search engine that let users store individual search results, organize them and share them through a new MyJeeves service.

Ask Jeeves personal push follows the launch last week of Amazon.com Inc.s A9.com search engine that focuses on customization. Search-engine analysts expect other major search engines, such as Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., to soon follow suit with their own personalized search services.

"We think were leading this," said Daniel Read, Ask Jeeves vice president of product management. "Were the first major engine to launch a product like this, and were more plugged into the core Web search than A9 or other, smaller players."

Along with personalization, Ask Jeeves announced an upgrade of its Teoma search-engine technology and an expansion of its local offering.

Teoma indexes Web pages and retrieves results. Version 3.0 includes more advanced algorithms, refreshes a portion of the index on a daily basis and adds Really Simple Syndication feeds as part of the index, Read said.

On the local front, Ask Jeeves launched a local search site to complement the local results already appearing within Web results and struck a partnership with Topix.net to tap into that news-search providers database of geographically specific articles.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Ask Jeeves local business listings partnership with Citysearch.

When it comes to personalization, Ask Jeeves has taken a different tact than A9.com. While A9.com requires an Amazon.com login to access personalized features, Ask Jeeves offers a choice.

When search results are returned, users can click on a "Save" link to keep particular results. Those results, as well as a history of searches, are available on MyJeeves through the use of cookies and without the need for registration.

Users can add notes to the results, create folders for organizing them, print them and e-mail them to others—in essence, creating what Ask Jeeves calls a "Personal Web." Once saved, the results and the metadata from notations can be searched through MyJeeves.

Users who register on the site can save their results and past searches more permanently, gain extra storage and access them through the Web from other computers, Read said. While MyJeeves automatically tracks search histories, users can clear the full history or specific searches much as they would Web-site visiting histories stored in Web browsers, Read said.

"Think about MyJeeves as a universal end tray," Read said. "And in the first iteration it is focused on Web results."

Read said that MyJeeves, currently in beta, eventually will expand to other data beyond Web search results.

One early target: desktop search. Ask Jeeves bought desktop-search startup Tukaroo Inc. earlier this year and plans to launch a desktop product in the fourth quarter of this year.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about how search competitor MSN, Microsoft Corp.s Internet unit, is aggressively pursuing desktop search.

"[Tukaroo] will be one of the integration pieces to be able to cut and paste between Web searching and desktop searching," Read said.

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